There are different ways to consider church. The traditional and biblical view is that God’s Word is proclaimed and sinners are preached to Christ to be forgiven. Those who will not repent of sin are not Christian and should be expelled from the congregation, so that thereby they are warned and might be saved before Judgment Day. The goal is always to bring to Christ by repentance—not to make people happy on earth. Church discipline historically was taken very seriously. Ex-communication from the church is to be a loving action to make sinners aware of their guilt, so their sins could be forgiven eventually. Where there is no sin, there is no need for Christ or His Gospel of redemption.
Today we live in a therapeutic culture—about healing and uplifting people, not preaching repentance before God. This means that everything is geared to making people feel better—not guilty. Schools encourage rather than punish, parents suggest and ask rather than command, and churches say nice, positive words, rather than point out actual sins which God hates. None of these positive things are wrong in themselves, but if that is all there is, we are leading children and adults astray—raising them to be their own authorities and gods.
The Lord is not happy with sin, nor should they be content with rebellion and wickedness—especially their own. “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy (Lev. 11:44). Too often we are afraid to rock the boat—to possibly offend and tell someone they are wrong, thereby confirming them in their sin and unbelief. It not loving to fail to warn someone going away from Christ to Satan’s kingdom. God gives His authority to parents, pastors, and Christians in any position of leadership to use His Word. We have a trust to discharge—a holy duty. “If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul (Ezek. 3:18-19).
The old way of confessing sin and receiving forgiveness is not as welcome. Admitting complete failure before God and that the sins of our heart are deserving of hell is extreme today. Guilt has been outlawed almost, but self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love have been idolized. But without true guilt and sorrow for our sin, there is no true comfort. God’s will for us and our lives has not changed, even if our world has changed. Christ died a sinner’s death. He did not come to save the healthy, but the sinful, lost, and dying.
Instead of preaching the law to prepare for the Gospel, which is considered negative and confrontational, the physiologist or therapist has replaced the pastor. He is non-threatening. He will listen without judgment and not condemn. One’s environment, parents, and elements beyond our control are frequently blamed —never the sinner himself before his God. Conditions, circumstances, and diagnoses are used to absolve one of guilt. People are told they cannot help sinning and doing evil practices.
In our current climate damning actual sin damages self-esteem, so it is said to be wrong to convict someone with accepting excuses or demand they stop sinning. But that means that forgiveness in Jesus’ name is not the solution, if guilt before God is not the main problem. Making people feel a little bit better does not deal with eternal death and the punishment of hell we all deserve for our sin. Telling people they are ok and sin is normal does not remove the penalty of death. We are not all complex, unique, and complicated before God—every sinner needs the grace of God revealed in Christ.
But just talking about bad things and brushing the law aside does not rid of guilt. We all have the Law written on our hearts. Only confessing our sin to God makes a real difference. We are not better just because we feel better or sin is swept under the carpet. Our world is like a doctor who tells a dying cancer patient, “you are fine, nothing is wrong,” keep doing what your doing. The underlying problem is not taken away by soft words. The Gospel is serious medicine for the dying.
David confesses his sin in Psalm 51: “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.””
We must take the blame and admit our failure to meet all God righteous demands. We are not holy, as He requires and commands. When we are nothing before His holiness, humbled and helpless before the almighty God, Christ’s victory over sin and death is everything. This is a peace than cannot be taken away. “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” When sins are forgiven on earth, it is also done in heaven by your heavenly Father. Heaven has been opened to you and your heart is given God’s grace and eternal peace to rely on, which cannot be disturbed by the troubles of this world or human doubts.
We have the answer to every sin and sinner—Christ, so we may have faith above all the sin and evil of this world. “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you … was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory (2 Cor. 1:19-20). —ed.